No space for Lookman, Osimhen as only two Africans make Forbes’ Top 50 highest-paid athletes

No space for Lookman, Osimhen as only two Africans make Forbes’ Top 50 highest-paid athletes | Photo Credits: Instagram, IMAGO/Illustration by David Ben

No space for Lookman, Osimhen as only two Africans make Forbes’ Top 50 highest-paid athletes

David Ben 19:22 - 23.05.2024

For another year in a row, Nigerian athletes did not make Forbes’ rich-list.

This past week, Forbes unveiled their annual list of the world’s highest-paid athletes.

The list which saw Cristiano Ronaldo retain his crown as the highest-paid ahead of Lionel Messi and LeBron James for another year in a row, featured 50 athletes with the biggest paydays in the world.

Ronaldo, 39 topped the Forbes earnings list for 2024, with his annual earnings of $250 million, almost twice of Lionel Messi’s $135 million yearly paycheck.

Cristiano Ronaldo highest paid athletes 2024
Al Nassr star Cristiano Ronaldo remains the highest-paid athlete in the world in 2024. || X

Messi, 36, came third on list, behind U.S-based Spanish golfer, Jon Rahm, whose yearly earnings is estimated at $218 million.

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NBA legend and Lakers star LeBron James is in fourth place, and the only billionaire in the Top 10, with his annual earnings pegged at $128.2 million.

Although, Tiger Woods is the only other billionaire in the Top 50.

The golf legend sits in 23rd place, with his annual earnings estimated at $67.2 million.

Giannis Antetokuonmpo ($111m), Kylian Mbappé ($110m), Neymar. Jr ($108m), Karim Benzema ($106m), Steph Curry ($102m), and Lamar Jackson ($100.5) complete the rest of the top 10 respectively.

Lookman and Osimhen snubbed in Forbes’ highest-paid athletes list.

For another year running, no Nigerian athlete could make Forbes’ list of highest-paid athletes.

The least ranked player on the list is NBA and Phoenix Suns star, Devin Booker, whose annual earnings is pegged at just over $45 million — which means there was no room for Nigerian athletes with their wages still far off from the biggest earners in the sporting world.

Atalanta star and Europa League winner, Ademola Lookman currently earns less than $3 million per year based on his reported contract with the Serie A side.

Ademola Lookman
Ademola Lookman lifting the Europa League title || Image credit: Imago

While Napoli star, Victor Osimhen only signed his most lucrative contract with the 2023 Scudetto champions that will see him earn around $16 million yearly (inclusive of on-field bonuses).

Victor Osimhen
Victor Osimhen of Napoli || Imago

Even as the highest-paid Nigerian athlete currently, Osimhen’s Napoli wages is still miles off the exclusive class the biggest paychecks in world football.

However, the 25-year-old is expected to seal a big-money move from Napoli this summer with a keen number of European elite interested.

It also presents the Super Eagles star an opportunity to possibly double up on his current earnings in Naples, as he is expected to sign, what could possibly be “the biggest contract” ever by a Nigerian in world football, pending where and when he makes his big move.

Mo Salah and Sadio Mané: The only Africans in Forbes’ Top 50 highest-paid athletes

Only two Africans made Forbes’ latest sporting rich-list, and they both come from the football world.

According to Forbes rankings, Liverpool star, Mohamed Salah, still remains the highest-paid African athlete in the world.

Mohamed Salah highest paid athletes in 2024
Liverpool hero Mohamed Salah | Imago

With his annual earnings, estimated at $53 million, the Egyptian star sits in 38th position in the Top 50.

No other African footballer earns more off the pitch than Liverpool’s iconic Egyptian.

As of 2024, Salah boasts the most endorsement deals amongst all African footballers in the world, underscoring his marketability even in the final years of his prime.

Salah’s former teammate and Al Nassr winger Sadio Mané is the only other African that joined him on Forbes’ list.

Sadio Mane highest paid athletes of 2024
Senegalese star Sadio Mane is one of the highest-paid African athlete in the world | Credit: Imago

With an estimated annual earnings of $52 million thanks to his 2023 move to the Saudi Pro League, the Senegalese star is 40th overall on the rankings.

This would be the second year in a row, where Forbes crowned Mo Salah as the highest-paid African athlete and footballer in the world.